For the first time in nearly a decade, British Columbia has suffered a net loss as a result of interprovincial migration, according to Statistics Canada's latest batch of population data for BC and the rest of the country.
In Q3 2022, BC saw 19,105 people leave and move to another province or territory, while seeing only 14,306 migrate into the province, for a net loss of 4,799 people. This is the first quarter since Q1 2013 that BC has seen a net loss from interprovincial migration, StatsCan says, when the province lost 383 people.
Zooming in, 50, 57, and 78 people migrated to, respectively, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Prince Edward Island, the three regions of Canada that saw the least migration from BC.
On the other end of the spectrum was Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta. Quebec saw 1,062 people migrate from BC, Ontario saw 4,204, while Alberta saw a whopping 10,928, the most popular interprovincial migration destination for those leaving the province.
While the number may be shocking, it was actually a small decrease from Q2 2022, which saw 13,595 migrate from BC to Alberta. However, relocations are generally lower in Q3 as a result of the beginning of the school year, and BC saw a net gain of 4,294 people in Q2 2022.
Affordability and Alberta
For those who have lived in BC in recent years, it's not hard to fathom what the catalyst for leaving the province may be.
A decade ago, Vancouver (and British Columbia as a whole) was routinely named as one of the best and "most livable" places in the world. Since then, while we still have great qualities, we've also lost a lot of our shine, gaining a notorious (and accurate) reputation for being one of the least affordable cities in the world. What a difference 10 years can make.
Meanwhile, Alberta has seen the opposite trajectory in the past decade, going from more of a second choice landing spot to one of the most popular provinces in the country these days, and it's in large part a result of the exact same thing responsible for BC's decline: affordability.
"In Alberta's two major cities [Calgary and Edmonton], the average cost of a new home, townhouse, or condo is up to four times less than Toronto and Vancouver," the Government of Alberta points out on its website for its "Alberta is Calling" advertising campaign, which has a stated goal of attracting talent from Toronto and Vancouver.
"Bigger paycheques. Smaller rent cheques," reads one of the advertising slogans. "A software developer, nurse, and plumber walk into a province. They all get jobs," another says. Much of the campaign centers on highlighting the problems British Columbians and Ontarians face and how they are significantly less of a problem in Alberta. (Many of those factors have also resulted in industrial migration to Alberta.)
And the campaign, which launched in August, appears to have made an impact. In the same quarter that BC saw its first net loss from interprovincial migration in any quarter in nearly a decade, Alberta saw its highest net gain in a third quarter since 1980, enjoying a net gain of 19,285 people as a result of 13,531 people leaving and 32,816 people arriving.
Aside from the 10,928 people that migrated from BC, Alberta also saw 12,290 people migrate from Ontario -- the most popular destination among those leaving Ontario. Alberta was also the most or second-most popular destination among those leaving every other province and territory except New Brunswick (where Ontario and Nova Scotia were the two most-popular destinations).
This is to say: Alberta is calling, and it appears British Columbians, Ontarians, and Canadians across the country are all answering.